If you want to build upper chest muscles and do it without using weights, this article will show you the best upper chest exercises you can do at home.
Frankly, I don’t have a symmetrical chest myself. In fact, I’ve been using the exercises I’m about to share with you to build my upper chest. And I’m already seeing results, so I can tell you for sure that these exercises work.
I won’t bore you with details of chest anatomy, but I’ll tell you why the upper chest muscles are stubborn. For one thing, the upper chest muscles are smaller than lower chest muscles. Secondly, most chest exercises activate the lower chest more than the upper chest. And that’s why most folks have a developed lower chest but a flat upper chest.
You’ll look better in clothes and be more confident once you build the upper chest muscles. Let’s face it, a flat upper chest can give you the man boobs look even when you don’t have chest fat or breast tissue.
Before I show you the exercises, I’ve give you a few training tips and facts to make your upper chest workout more rewarding.
Your bone structure matters
Not everybody can have a perfectly square chest. Even though upper chest exercises will help build muscles, your genes will determine how your chest will be shaped.
Folks who are genetically gifted don’t even have to target the upper chest. They can build a symmetrical chest by simply doing regular chest exercises. But the rest of us have to do specific upper chest exercises.
Since you can’t change your genes, just focus on building the upper chest muscles. Your chest will end up looking better than it does now.
Engage the upper chest muscles
Most people usually brush off this tip but it’s very important, especially when training to build muscles.
This simply means contracting the muscle you’re targeting throughout the set. Make sure you feel muscle activation in each rep. For this to be achieved, you have to execute the exercise slowly and do full range of motion.
This was one of Arnold’s training secret, he said – “The weights (body weight in our case) are just a means to an end; how well you contract the muscles is what training is all about.”
Don’t obsess over the number of reps you can do, focus on muscle contraction. But this is not to say that reps are not important, you still have to increase your reps workout after workout.
Apply this approach when training any muscle.
Arm Positioning Is Key
You’ll still be activating other muscles even when you engage the upper chest muscles. How well you activate the upper chest will be determined by your arm positioning. If your arms are not well positioned you’ll end up targeting other muscles.
All upper chest exercises also activate the shoulders, triceps and lower chest muscles. To activate the upper chest more, position your arms at 120 degree angle from the torso.
Now don’t go crazy and start taking measurements, just keep your arms above shoulder level but not in line with the torso. Think of pointing somewhere between forward and upwards (with a straight arm).
5 Best Bodyweight Upper Chest Exercises
You don’t need lot of exercises to target the upper chest. 5 exercises are enough for someone of any strength level. Do these exercises 2-3 times a week. And give the muscles enough rest to recover and grow.
Read the notes in each exercise because the videos don’t have the same info.
Decline Push Ups
The most popular weight exercise for activating the upper chest is the incline bench press. Well, you can mimic that move using the decline push ups.
The height of the surface you’ll place your feet on will determine the muscles you’ll activate. If you use a low surface, you’ll emphasize on the lower chest muscles. And if you use a surface that’s too high you’ll end up activating the shoulders and traps.
I’ve done decline push ups on different surfaces and I’ve found that I get the most upper chest activation when I use a surface that’s about my hip height.
Try it yourself see which position you find most effective. Note that placing your feet on a high surface makes the exercise more challenging, so start with a low surface if you’re a beginner.
How to perform
Place your feet on a surface, and keep place your hands on the floor.
Hold a shoulder width grip and keep your palms directly below the chin.
Keep the body aligned in a straight line then lower yourself until the chin slightly touches the floor and then slowly rise and repeat.
Perform the exercise slowly and don’t forget to engage the upper chest muscles.
P.S He confused the title, it’s supposed to be decline instead of incline
Pike Push Ups
Pike push ups usually target the shoulders but you can modify them to focus on the upper chest. You’ll have to test for yourself and determine which position targets the upper chest more.
Instead lowering the head directly downwards stick the chest out and slide (dive) forward until the shoulders are in line with the arms. Sliding is very important because it’ll put more emphasize on the upper chest and less on the shoulders.
How to perform
Assume a stance wider than shoulder width. The bend and place your arms on the floor.
Walk out with your hands until the angle between the hips and torso is at 120 degrees.
Keep the arms, shoulders, and back aligned in a straight line.
Slide forward by bending your elbows backwards, slide until the shoulders are in line with the arms, then slide backwards to starting position and repeat.
Dive Bomber Push Ups
This exercise is quite challenging, if you can’t perform it now, build strength with decline and pike push ups.
The dive bomber push ups is great for building upper body strength. It activates the lower and upper chest, triceps, shoulders, traps and the core.
How to perform
Start in pike push up position, and hold a grip wider than shoulder width.
Bend your sideways and slide forward as you lower the body. When the shoulders are in line with the palms, keep sliding forward as you straighten the arms.
At the top position the back should be arched and hips slightly touching the floor.
Slide backwards to reverse the movement and return to starting position. And repeat
Feet-Elevated Pike Push Ups
If the pike push ups are too easy for you, perform the exercise with your feet placed on a surface. Just like the other exercises, hand positioning will determine everything.
How to perform
Place your feet on a bench or a chair, then place your hands on the floor.
Keep the feet straight and arms positioned in past the head.
Now bend the elbows and slide forward until the chin touches the floor (in the space between the palms).
Now slide backwards to starting position and repeat.
Handstand Push Ups
Handstand push ups are great for strengthening the arms and shoulders. But you can position yourself in a way that will target the upper chest. Handstand push ups will activate the upper chest when they’re performed facing the wall.
How to perform
Stand facing away from the wall then place your hands on the floor.
Place your feet on the wall and walk backwards with your arms. Stop when your arms are two steps away from the wall.
Now do push ups from that position.
Make sure you stick your chest out and use the sliding movement, instead of lowering the head directly to the floor.
Upper Chest Workout Without Weights
Here are 2 upper chest workouts you can add to your routine.
Decline Push Ups – 3 Sets, maximum reps
Pike Push Ups – 3 Sets, maximum reps
Dive Bomber Push ups – 3 sets, maximum reps
Dive Bomber Push Ups – 3 sets, maximum reps
Feet-elevated pike push ups – 3 sets, maximum reps
Handstand Push Ups – 3 sets, leave room for 1 or 2 reps to avoid injury
You don’t have to lift weights to build a symmetrical chest. Push exercises alone are enough – you just need to adjust your positioning to target the upper chest.
If you’ve already have a developed lower chest, skip the regular chest exercises and focus on the ones listed above.
Lastly, don’t focus on upper chest and forget training other muscles. Make sure you train the back, core and lower body muscles as well.
Is there any other upper chest bodyweight exercise I haven’t mentioned?